Posts Tagged ‘Kev’
Vibrato – Paul Gilbert
I usually shudder when an album by a solo-guitarist lands on my door mat. Usually these albums are little more than a self indulgent exercise with every other instrument too low in the mix while the listener is subjected to nothing but twiddly solos. These guitarists are obviously good, but seem intent on telling the world about it on a daily basis. I often find my self bored by track 2, and ready to switch the album off by track 3. Not so with Mr. Paul Gilbert…
Paul Gilbert can play the guitar. And he plays it VERY well indeed. Clearly he recognises that only an idiot would doubt his ability and so this album is not one long guitar solo screaming out ‘Look at me! I can play!’ Instead, what we have here are well crafted, solid songs that not only show case Gilbert’s playing ability, but also his song writing skills as well. This is why Paul Gilbert’s latest album Vibrato is refreshingly good!
Vibrato is made up of some instrumental tracks, tracks with vocals, and 3 live tracks from a couple of years ago. As you’d expect from the man once voted the 4th greatest guitar shredder ever, the backing band are superb musicians that, like Gilbert, know when to dazzle and know when to get down to just playing a decent song.
The 3 live tracks are decent recordings too including a great cover of AC/DC’s Go Down and show that this guy is no fluke and can nail a great solo live with ease – but lets be honest, there would be a problem if he couldn’t!
A range of influences crop up throughout the CD from jazz, to Bowie, to funk, to all out rock. The title track is a perfect example of how the album will appeal to those who want solo’s at the speed of light and those who want to enjoy a broader range of musical prowess. Being someone in the latter of those two categories I can safely say I enjoyed this album. Gilbert’s guitar playing is as good as ever, and while at times it’s jaw-droopingly good, it’s not too in your face. I’d have no problem playing this CD again, and I’m sure fans of his previous projects would not be disappointed either.
(By the way, if you are one of those people really would rather just hear some crazy guitar playing, then head for track 10 – you won’t be disappointed!)
To find out more about Paul Gilbert you can visit his official website HERE.
Driving The Nails In – Nya
South Coast metallers NYA are back with their 2nd EP ‘Driving The Nails In’. You soon know what you’re getting with this band – lots of tight riffs, lots of soaring choruses, and an anthemic feel for the audience to go wild to. There’s just one problem… it isn’t a very good EP.
It’s well produced, but for me this EP lacks anything special. Everything on here has been done a LOT over the years, and NYA really need to look for their own signature sound to add to the mix. There’s nothing wrong with going for a tried and tested sound, but NYA need to at least try to make the sound their own. Each song seems to just blend into mediocrity and I’m afraid that vocalist Anezka Piska’s voice isn’t up to the standard of other female metal vocalists out there at the moment.
This is going to be a short review. There are no stand out moments, and while their first EP got them a good slot at Download 2011 I can’t see this EP doing them such favours. Sorry!
To find out more about NYA visit their site HERE.
France 98 – Girl Band
I received this album in the post recently and it stood out straight away. Mainly because unlike the other discs that turned up, this had no art work and press release telling me about the band. Just a disc with the bands name, EP title, and the track names. A real case of ‘Let the music do the talking’.
So here goes. Girl Band’s latest release France ‘98 starts off with a wall of feedback before crashing into a dirty riff and something of a Kasabian inspired vibe. There’s a real swagger to the music – an air of ‘We don’t care if you don’t like us’, which in an age of squeaky clean pop bands is always quite nice!
I like these guys. There’s nothing amazingly spectacular to be had here, but what they do, they do well. In other words, they know how to rock. Track 2 Busy At Maths grinds along nicely with screeching guitar noises in the background, and the 1 minute 17 seconds noise fest that is France ‘98 is, well a 1 minute 17 second noise fest! What more could you want?
By this point there are a few influences creeping through. The feedback and wailing guitars conjure up images of Nirvana having a scrap with White Stripes, while some of the quieter moments have a bit of an Echo & The Bunnymen edge.
Final track Handswaps is a monster of a track. It has a certain sinister feel to it and, like a Nirvana hidden album track, has some incredible bursts of power shrouded in and amongst a slower darker side that is always going to build up to something big.
So overall, an impressive offering. Admittedly it is let down a bit by the sometimes questionable production quality. I’d like to have the vocals much higher in the mix, and more bass, but that aside there is more than enough on here to make me want to check out more of this band. This is not for the faint hearted – and I like that!
To find out more about Girl Band visit their site HERE.
Story – David Bronson
‘Story’ was written, recorded and produced by David Bronson, with really rather good results. Opening up with the fantastic ‘The Turns’, Bronson has taken on board the sounds of Neil Young, David Bowie (why am I getting so many CD’s with a Bowie sound lately?), and even, dare I say it, a 70’s era Elton John in places, to give the listener a great sounding, well crafted, delightful album.
Each song is a story in itself, but also part of a greater tale of life and discovery. There’s a real bombastic sound to the album thanks in part to the great production and not being afraid to really rock when the songs need to go up a notch. On the flip-side there is also a slower, more folk inspired side with a hint of Bright Eyes that manages to work well with the more grandiose moments.
Tracks ‘If’ and ‘Easier’ illustrate the two sides to Bronson really well with ‘If’ building into a great all round rock number while ‘Easier’ slips down a bit into a country-laced song with some lovely harmonies and a more dreamy vibe to it. Final track ‘Unending’ captures the lot in one track and is a great way to sign off.
You’ve probably guessed that I like this album! It’s not the sort of thing I’d usually go for but there is so much attention to detail throughout the album, and while it may not have a radio friendly ‘hit’ to introduce Bronson to a wider audience, there is easily enough on here to warrant a listen from any folk-rock or indie fan.
To find out more about David Bronson visit his site HERE.
Sleepwalker – POM
I’ll start this off with a quick story about a recent gig I was playing at in London. The opening act was a young lad who played guitar along to backing tracks from a laptop. He was a good guitarist – very good. The backing tracks were rather extravagant as well, and the guy really went for it. You could sense that when he closed his eyes, in his head he thought he was playing at Wembley in front of 80,000. There’s nothing massively wrong with that, but there is no chance this guy will ever be in a band, such was his preoccupation with fancy solos and playing his guitar exactly how his tutor taught him. He told me after his show he was looking for a band and I wasn’t surprised when he said he had been looking for several years – he would be impossible to work with.
With this album by POM I get the same impression. This guy is insanely good on the guitar – people shouldn’t be able to be this good. The trouble is it becomes very self indulgent which makes it almost impossible for the listener to get any enjoyment out of this. This is an album that people learning the guitar will listen to in an effort to get some ‘tricks of the trade’. High level guitar player will listen to this in an effort to pick holes in it to satisfy their sense of ‘guitar superiority‘. Guitar ‘nerds’ will listen to this and say how they like how he’s done this and that. Not many people, however, will listen to this and get a sense of
enjoyment from it. Even when there is the mildest hint of a backing band, the guitar still dominates far too much. Track 3 is the closest POM gets to a song that shows he could be more than a solo act, but the very next track is 2 seconds away from the 10 minute mark and aside from some very low in the mix bass and snare rim hits, it’s just acoustic guitar. TEN minutes! No thank you…
If I played guitar like this guy I’d probably love the album, or be very envious of POM. The reality is that there are only a handful of people this talented, and they’re probably the only people who will appreciate this album. The rest of the music loving world will be prone to feelings of inferiority, boredom and jaw ache from yawning a lot.
Whatever happened to the phrase ‘Simple is effective’? Look at every band that has changed the face of music on global
scale - Elvis, The Beatles, Sex Pistols, Guns n’ Roses, Nirvana, and Oasis to name a few. Love them or loathe them (and I really do loathe 2 of the aforementioned!), they knew how to rein it in when necessary. They knew that the listener didn’t necessarily have to be blown away by musicianship – they just want to sing along to something. There’s no need to force solo after solo, scale after scale, transition after transition. Just play a bloody song!
You may have worked out by now that this won’t be scoring highly. The marks POM get are purely for the fact that he has no doubt put nearly a lifetime in to getting so good on the guitar. He just needs to spend a few more years on song writing now.
To find out more about POM click HERE.
FLATS – ‘BETTER LIVING’
With my new neighbours upstairs moving in enough furniture to kit out the Empire State Building while seemingly not being bothered about the fact that it’s 7a.m and that some of us may still want to sleep, I have decided to get up, and get reviewing. First up it’s London based ‘Flats’ with their new album ‘Better Living’. Within the first couple of earth moving bass notes it soon becomes clear that it would be wrong not to crank this up and give the new neighbours a taste of their own noise-fuelled medicine!
The slow, sludgy, monstrously heavy ‘Foxtrot’ is a fantastic opener and I can see why these lads have supported Eyehategod and played Sonisphere (clashing with Metallica in the stage times.)
The fuzzy, down tuned guitar sounds and rasping, screaming vocals remind me a little of late 80’s grunge pioneers Green River and as the album progresses I soon realise that there is going to be no respite for me, or my neighbours! My only issue is that the songs do seem to just go through the motions in places – while this isn’t a bad album in the slightest, there isn’t anything that really stands out. This may be partly down to the production which has a couple of flaws such as the vocals being a bit low in the mix in places.
Track 7 ‘Slam’ is my standout track on this album – it’s aggressive, brutal and has a groove that some of the other songs lack. The very next track ‘Crucifixion’ is also a winner with a cool little riff which is just a bit more catchy than some of the other tracks.
Finishing up with some Sabbath inspired guitars on the rather excellent track ‘Mambo’, Flats have certainly delivered a good LP. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but I like that in a way!
For more on Flats visit their website HERE.
J.R.BLACKMORE & FRIENDS – VOICES part 1
J.R. Blackmore follows up his last instrumental album with ‘Voices’. As you can gather from the title, this album has vocals in it. After my last review of an instrumental CD this album is already streets ahead before I’ve even pressed play. Or is it?
There’s no doubting the credentials of Jurgen Blackmore, son of the legendary Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple/Rainbow/ Blackmore’s Night fame. From the off it’s clear that this album is guitar driven with some crunching riffs and a classical influence. Yup, Jurgen’s a real chip off the ol’ block!
There is plenty of fantastic guitar playing from start to finish, and it sounds like there has been a pretty big budget for the making of this album. My standout track ‘Destructive Mania’ is a Hammond organ driven, power chord fuelled epic, however like the rest of the album it’s a little bit too polished and slick for my liking.
I’ll be giving this 3 out of 5 with marks deducted for an almost ‘rock by numbers’ feel to the album in places. That said, if you’re into your traditional rock music you will not be disappointed in ‘Voices’ at all. The album shows that you can ‘show off’
without ruining a song unlike certain other artists reviewed on this site!
To find out more about J.R. Blackmore click HERE.
Hailing from several corners of Europe, Hate Gallery come out of the shadows with their second studio album ‘Viva La Resistance’. Starting off with a track of the same name the band fly into an up tempo riff that has a slight QOTSA vibe and immediately grabs the listeners attention. The songs are relentless and in your face and as the band fly into the Killing Joke-esque ‘The Warning’ it soon becomes clear that this is an album that will be getting a lot of plays on my iPod!
There’s no pretentiousness here, no overblown drum solos or guitars drowning out everything else, just track after track of fast, bone crushing riffs flipping a big finger up at the world. The album has a running theme of ‘rising up’ – the album title and song titles like ‘Security Forces’ and ‘Salvation’ pretty much give the game away – but just a few listens of this album could really leave you feeling capable of taking the world on!
The epic track ’The Becoming’ takes a slight departure from the albums hard hitting sounds, for a more Pink Floyd sounding psychedelic number, but very next song ’Security Forces’ soon takes things back up to ear splitting levels! Along with the venomous punk number ‘2 Minute Hate’ there is more than enough to satisfy the head bangers out there to allow the band to slow things down one more time with ‘Love Shine On’, before wrapping things up with the final song ‘Salvation’ – another Killing Joke fuelled beast of a track!
In short, a fantastic album! ‘Viva La Resistance’ is released on my birthday, Monday 9th January and anyone popping round with a card or present (vouchers will do!) will almost certainly have to listen to this being played loudly while in my lounge! I’m confident they won’t be disappointed!
With the Summer Olympics looming,Londonwill be under the world’s media spotlight on a scale not seen since the 1966 World Cup. On the back of the riots last year and the ongoing economic crisis that engulfs the capital, it will be nice to see the city portrayed in a nicer light for a change. With this in mind, a compilation album titled ‘London’, released in association with Time Out magazine, filled with songs inspired by this famous part of the world is very apt at this moment in time.
The tracks concentrate on many aspects of London– the people, places, street names, sights and sounds and while some tracks are more famous than others, the album itself is a pleasant listen from start to finish.
My favourite thing about this compilation is the packaging. With a predictably stereotypical cover that features Big Ben, a red bus, and the Millennium Wheel, it’s what inside the case that impresses me. A fold out map of Camdenwith paragraphs dotted around it telling tales of The Clash shooting pigeons, and where the Sex Pistols rehearsed, you also get treated to an interesting booklet on the various music scenes of North, East, Saaaf and West London.
From Duffy to Bowie and Gerry Rafferty to St. Etienne, there’s a little something for everyone on here.
The track listing is as follows:
Roxy Music – Do The Strand
Jamie Cullum – London Skies
The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset
Squeeze – Piccadilly
Kirsty MacColl – Soho Square
Pet Shop Boys – London
Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street
Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl
Eddy Grant – Electric Avenue
Pulp – Bar Italia
Duffy – Warwick Avenue
The Jam – Strange Town
Ralph McTell – Streets of London
Small Faces – Itchycoo Park
Bert Jansch, John Renbourn – Soho
David Bowie – The London Boys
Caetano Veloso – London London
The Pogues – A Rainy Night In Soho
John Martyn, Beverley Martyn – Primrose Hill
Saint Etienne – London Belongs To Me
I usually get these albums with a brief band bio on the artist. These articles inevitably ‘big up’ the album in question sometimes to cringe worthy levels. The accompanying review that came with this particular album was however refreshingly spot on.
This album is rich in beautiful melodies, layers of warm guitars and with James Deane’s smooth vocals the ingredients are there for an all round delightful album. The songs range from the upbeat classic rock sounding opener Diamonds & Hearts to a more soulful sound found on Unwritten Song. A more country/bluesy sounding Dreamed You Were Home showcases another side to James Deane and we get treated to a more ballad-like tone with I Surrender, which is my personal favourite on the album! I guess you could say that James Deane covers a lot of bases on Diamonds & Hearts, and that’s one reason why I could really see this album appealing to a large audience.
There is a real Neil Young vibe throughout, a hint of Tom Petty, and in places I can even hear a bit of the acoustic sounds of The Who – listen to I Am One by The Who and you’ll get my drift! For every slower number like Midnight Train, there is an up-tempo track like The Passing Of Time which keeps a nice balance to the album.
Closing track Strange Emotion is a staggeringly beautiful song and a great way to finish off the album and really showcases James Deane’s talent with his song writing.
I have to say, I did not think I would enjoy Diamonds & Hearts nearly as much as I did. It’s certainly not my usual choice of music. Books/covers/judging etc – clearly I’m guilty of being a tad presumptuous. I’m glad I stuck with this album though because I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope you do too.
To find out more about James Deane, visit his website HERE.